It's hard not to be inspired by the strength and determination of the athletes that are taking part in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, including that of the most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps.
Just when you would think Phelps would be too exhausted after making history and taking home the gold for four consecutive Games for the 200-meter individual medley, he was still able to successfully push past the eighth spot to second to quality for Friday's 100-meter butterfly final.
While this goes to show how strong these athletes are mentally (as they seem unfazed by the competition, which could be mentally exhausting in its own right), without the superpower-like abilities of their bodies, they wouldn't be able to come out victorious.
We've all heard the saying that abs are made in the kitchen. So, you could probably bet that Olympians eat very clean. However, you might be shocked to learn that athletes like Phelps are actually watching what they eat despite burning lots of calories during their respected disciplines.
Phelps previously revealed what was on his daily menu back during the 2008 Beijing Olympics: three fried egg and cheese sandwiches with mayo, French toast, pancakes, more eggs, two pounds of pasta, pizza and sandwiches made up his 12,000-calorie diet. Keep in mind that, on average, people should only consume 1,600 to 3,000 calories per day, depending on their sex, age, weight, height and BMI. Phelps was eating close to 4,000 calories in one sitting. Now, imagine going for a swim after that.
However, along with noticing that Phelps is into cupping, you might have noticed how lean and cut the swimmer now looks. That's because he has changed his diet to now include more healthy options.
To stay in such great shape and fuel his body properly as his metabolism changes with age, Phelps now eats food like grilled chicken, asparagus salad and potatoes. A big fan of grilling, he eats lots of hamburgers, steaks and chicken, while also throwing some Mexican food into the mix.
Phelps told Men's Health that he now eats less and instead focuses on nutrient- and protein-dense food. This means a bowl of oatmeal, an omelet, fruit and coffee for breakfast, followed by a Subway meatball footlong for lunch and lean meat, whole grains and veggies for dinner. He has also completely cut alcohol from his diet.
It seems like turning to healthy choices, rather than just eating everything and anything to bulk up, has fueled his body more efficiently.
That doesn't mean he still doesn't get his carbs in before a race.
A photo posted by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on Aug 11, 2016 at 4:50pm PDT
In comparison, U.S. Olympic team member and rival Ryan Lochte eats between 7,000 and 8,000 calories per day, including six eggs, pancakes, fruit, hash browns and oatmeal — and that's just breakfast. He's also a fan of carb loading and making sure to eat a big meal two to three hours before racing.
Phelps is not the only clean-eating athlete in the Olympics. Volleyball champ Kerri Walsh Jennings snacks on almond butter and honey sandwiches when in need of fuel, while gymnast Gabby Douglas reaches for almonds along with lean proteins like grilled chicken breast and veggies.
Also on the menu of many Olympians are kale and Greek yogurt. Other healthy options include smoothies with fruit, spinach and peanut butter, grilled chicken salad and stir-fried lean meat with rice and vegetables.
Photo: Marco Paköeningrat | Flickr